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From the correct vase for the right arrangement, to flowers to say thank you or express sympathy, a guru provides all the answers

EXPERT: Margot Shaw, founder of Flower Magazine

Vases and, therefore, flowers, grasses, branches and all floral fantasies, are admired and sought worldwide. They come in glass, plain and coloured, metals, even wood. Vases on a table, a sideboard, in a church hall or at every function possible, celebrating birth or lamenting death, can be see adorning their surroundings.

In the modern era it has been mooted vases were overlooked. Now, however, interior designers have turned to the vase to transform all areas, bringing colour and aroma, packed with fragrant foliage and imparting vibrant impact.

But what are the best vases and the correct flowers to seek?

Q What are the best types of vases to own?

A I recommend glass cubes, low bowls and small bud vases of different shapes and sizes to create impact with ease. I also like the popular compote container for loose, gardenish designs.

Q What is the best type of bouquet that is long-lasting and beautiful?

A Roses and carnations are always a good choice. If well prepped they will last a good while. Keep them in clean water without floral foam. Some stores also stock orchids, which are long-lasting.

Q Is a green plant or a succulent considered to be a better hostess gift than a bouquet of fresh flowers?

A It depends on the host. If it’s a close friend, you can raid their cupboard for a vase and drop the flowers in yourself. If the hostess is not as well known to you, bring in a container – even a beautifully dressed orchid.

Q Is it still customary to send all white flowers as a sympathy bouquet?

A Floral rules have loosened. White is always appropriate for sympathy, especially lilies, but I have sent a basket of bright, seasonal flowers as a happier, informal offering. Consider what the recipient might appreciate.

Q Is it still appropriate to have flowers sent to an office for a special occasion, or is this old-fashioned?

A Flowers are always appropriate. I‘d suggest something smaller and understated that could be placed on a desk – maybe something without a heavy fragrance.

Q Do younger generations recognise the custom of sending flowers as a thank you?

A Young people whose parents were in the habit of thanking with flowers are more likely to send flowers as a thank you. The tide is turning back to a thoughtful gesture, whether it’s a handwritten note or a simple bouquet. 

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